The next few cycles were calmer, the aftermath of such violence having taken its toll, especially the apes, who stuck to the mid-deck interior. The humans repaired the nest and disposed of the deck slaughter remains as effectively as possible.

The space around the tower had turned rank with blood and death, while scavengers made use of every gory morsel. The water from the broken nest pipes now dribbled down the tower like a waterfall, which helped wash away some of the mess and stench.

The man proposed either moving on from the tower or leaving the rig altogether. Otherwise they needed to take the fight to the apes and dominate the other creatures.

She wanted to leave the rig.

How, where?

They agree there was no coincidence that the rig was perfectly central to the encircling invisible barrier, reaching one-thousand lengths in each direction. If there was a floor to the world hidden in the depths, invisible or otherwise, then what was above the white cloud layer?

The mystery of what laid beneath, above and beyond motivated them.

They agreed that if the barrier curved inwards, as per their testing, and was one-thousand lengths deep and high, then the world surely formed a sphere. If so, then reaching the extremes would be almost impossible without sprouting wings or gills.

By now the humans had swam and dived many times, more cautiously since realising there were multiple aggressive water-dwellers, including barracudas and piranhas. They had witnessed a large shark, perhaps the shark, feeding on a turtle only for that shark to be torn apart by an Orca.

They appreciated the difficulties of underwater breathing and sensory deprivation.

The threats and obstacles aboard the rig were little better – komodo dragons, anacondas, elephants and hippos, not to mention the fliers.

Life aboard was dwindling rapidly and logic dictated that the number would soon narrow to the few alphas. That was worrying and put a countdown on the humans’ plans.

The man could hold his breath longer and swim stronger than her, therefore he had more chance of reaching the bottom. Additional weight would help him descend quicker on one tremendous breath.

The decision was made. He would dive. Courage and cunning was needed.

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